Maps showing the Boston Hoosac
Tunnel and Western Railway with its eastern and western connections.
Fitchburg prospered greatly in the 1800's with the building of the Hoosac Tunnel and a direct railway line through the Hoosac Mountain range tunnel to Boston.
The Fitchburg Railroad was organized by Alvah Crocker, a local paper mill owner, in the early 1840's. He incorporated existing railroads including the Vermont & Massachusetts Railroad, which connected Fitchburg with Greenfield. In the late 1840's, Crocker secured the charter for a railroad between Greenfield and Troy, which would tunnel through Hoosac Mountain. The decades long building of the 4.75 mile-long Hoosac Tunnel spurred much growth in the area.
Two million tons of rock were carved out of the Berkshire Mountain range to build the Hoosac Tunnel. The first boring attempt failed after 10 feet in. A pneumatic drill was used after that. Tunnel boring combined drilling, hand digging, black powder explosives, blasting caps, and nitroglycerine. Stop orders, brought about by numerous tunnel dissenters, delayed construction often. Accidents were big issues in the building of the Hoosac Tunnel. It was referred to as the “Bloody Pit” during construction due to the number of accidental deaths, usually because of the explosives used. By the time the tunnel was finished in 1875, 193 deaths had been reported.
Midway through the project the Troy & Greenfield Railroad was foreclosed on and the state gained control of the completion of the tunnel and railroad.
The train tunnel, known as the Great Bore, through the Berkshire Range was completed in 1875. Regular trains began passing through the tunnel from Boston to Troy in 1876.
The tunnel and the railroad through it were purchased by the Fitchburg Railroad in 1877. In 1900 the line became part of the Boston & Maine Railroad.
The maps were published in 1881 by G.W. & C.B. Colton & Co. Displayed are portions of Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The map of the northeastern United States shows drainage, counties, cities and towns, and railroad network. Inset map includes Boston, the Hoosac Tunnel, and the Western Railway.